I had the proofs of The Shadow if Tyr, book 2 of The Mirage Makers delivered to my door this morning. These are the first glimpse an author has of how a book will look after publication - the layout has been done in the chosen font, the title/dedication/maps are in place, and so on. They come in double uncut pages.
And it is the job of the author to go through them, line by line, and check that everything is as it should be. It is usually the last look an author gets before the book goes to print.
In days gone by, when typesetters set the type letter by letter, this particular process was of paramount importance because mistakes could occur by the hundred. Nowadays when the basis for the "typesetting" is the digital copy the author supplies themselves, it is not quite so bad - but the handwritten changes made at copyedit have to be checked very, very carefully, to make sure they all made it into the final version. And if you want a mistake free book (well, as close as one can get and still be human) it pays to do a careful check of everything.
The book is due to come out in January, so we are well ahead of schedule.
But I am three-quarters the way through my first major overhaul of the next book, book 3, Song of the Shiver Barrens. And I desperately want to get that out of the way, so I can send it on to my beta readers.
So I am vacillating. What to do first? Book 2 - due back at HarperCollins asap - or Book 3, due at HarperCollins on September 4th which is when my editor gets back from her overseas vacation. (Well, she called it a vacation, but I note that she went out of her way to meet my agent for the first time last Friday. I am waiting in trepidation to know what was discussed then...).
And my daughter - whom I haven't met in a year - is due in next Monday. Oh for a cloned me...